When it comes to this week's album cover, just where do I begin?
The bold fashion statement of the menfolk, with their matching sweater vests worn over their matching turtleneck sweaters? The stunning appropriation of Jim Traficant's hair nightmare by the female member? The awesome Olan Mills Studio backdrop?
Or perhaps the boldness in naming themselves "Country Church" when they seem to embody neither? I mean, one of their male members is clearly a homersexual and the other two seem to be the models for the Super Mario Brothers.
Maybe we should just move on to the Friday Random Ten.
For those of you joining our program already in progress, here's how it works. Step One, fire up your iTunes or your imitationTunes and set it to random. Step Two, hit play and note the first ten songs that stumble forth. (As always, be honest. If it lands on the Starland Vocal Band, then so be it.) And Step Three, if you're feeling saucy, Bernaise, go ahead and give the songs a Coolness Self-Audit as well. (A friendly how-to guide is available here.)
1. Bukka White, "Shake 'Em On Down" -- Although nowhere nearly as famous as his cousin B.B. King, Booker T. Washington White is a blues legend. This is a classic old tune recorded in 1937, reportedly while White was still imprisoned in Mississippi's notorious Parchman State Prison. So show some goddamned respect. 8/10
2. Radiohead, "Rhinestone Cowboy (live)" -- Even though this is a pretty straightforward and straight-faced cover of a mediocre tune, you've got to admire the cheek it takes to cover Glenn Campbell. But is it cool? 6/10
3. Curtis Mayfield, "Keep On Trippin'" -- On the absolute scale of coolness, Mayfield ranks right up there at the top. This isn't his finest work, but it's still damn sweet stuff. 9/10
4. The New Pornographers, "Twin Cinema" -- I know these kids are supposedly all the rage in the hip indie rocking world, but they just do nothing for me. They might be trying too hard. And trying, as we all know, is patently uncool. 5/10
5. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, "The Message" -- Now that's a nice recovery. This song is rightfully regarded as a hip-hop classic, a great combination of infectious grooves and brilliant lyrics. Hard to believe they could make a song with such an angry undertone sound so appealing. Good thing The Man is genetically incapable of hearing the lyrics. 10/10
6. The Stanley Brothers, "A Voice From On High" -- The vocals in this bluegrass tune are so angelic, you'd think that you were "on high" with the Heavenly Father too. Well, maybe just "high." 7/10
7. Johnny Cash, "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog" -- The title's pretty much the best part of this song. As much as I adore the Man in Black, a plodding tune about the pathetic old dog he's going to blow away with a shotgun doesn't really do it for me. 4/10
8. Neutral Milk Hotel, "Bucket" -- This is from a 1996 live performance at the Knitting Factory, something I discovered in one of Sen. Ted Stevens' internet tubes. It's a slow burn, lit by some pained Jeff Mangum vocals. Very nice. 8/10
9. Lush, "Sweetness and Light" -- Ah, the sweet sound of shoegazer music. Shoegazer always makes me feel like I'm late for an English lit class. This one has everything you'd want from the genre, from the swirling fuzzy guitars to the high-pitched female vocals. They certainly get the angsty job done, but as Bart Simpson once said, "making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel." 6/10
10. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Over and Over Again" -- This is another live version I found on the internets. (Sen. Stevens is right! The internets are slow because those tubes are all clogged with this crap!) The live performance is not much different from the studio version, which is to say, it's absofuckinglutely great. 9/10
Well, that gives me a 7.2 average. Much like the MTV Generation, I'm apparently incapable of feeling either highs or lows. What's that like, you ask? Meh.
I'm sure that the rest of you folks can do better than that. So kindly drop your own random ten in the comments below, with or without the coolness self-audit. Or don't. See if I care.